The world--well, the part of the world that is conscious and not preoccupied with survival--holds its breath. America is only a few days away from deciding its future, and by extension, everybody else's future too. Do they elect Barack Obama as president and send a signal to the world that they are renewed--that the torch, as Jack Kennedy might have said, has been passed to a new generation who want America to rediscover its sense of mission, its presumed destiny as the leader of a New Way that enshrines fairness "and justice for all"? Or do they elect John McCain, who stands for a slightly more liberal version of the same corrupt, greedy, lying, illiterate bullshit America has soured the world with for the last eight years (with my own country, which has never known any better, cheering it on).
The people I have spoken to--Africans and Pakistanis among them--men who have witnessed enough corruption and violence in their own countries to turn Michael Landon to drink and Devil worship--say McCain is so old he will be in a nursing home before the end of his first term. They say, correctly, "same old same old." They say, "America will never elect a black man."
Nobody anywhere else in the world appears to believe that America would dare to take such a bold and visionary step. The consensus is that voters must be lying to the pollsters and that come election day they will vote McCain with guilt in their hearts and never admit what they have done. I hope America proves them wrong and that hope triumphs over cynicism when the votes are cast. If it doesn't and McCain is elected it will be difficult for us ever to have faith in the value of political engagement again.